Even in my wildest dreams, I never could have imagined myself standing in front of a mirror again with a book in my hand, slowly reading out loud and observing how my mouth forms different sounds. It’s kind of like going back to the days when I was just learning how to talk or how to read. The feeling is almost surreal. Surprisingly though, I have actually started to enjoy my practice time, although it sometimes feels strange and even a little uncomfortable. At eighteen years old, reading out loud to yourself can be—I am searching for the right words—painfully humbling. Throughout our lives, I believe God often uses certain situations to humble us and to redirect our gaze towards Christ. I have no doubt that this is what He is trying to do through my stutter. In the moments when we feel the smallest, God finally has His rightful place in our hearts. He deserves all the glory and all of the praise, always.
With the help of two fantastic books produced by the Stuttering Foundation, I’ve begun a new journey of self-therapy. For now, I’m just in the first stages of observing how my body responds to stuttering and identifying exactly what happens when I stutter. Once I know these two things, I can start taking some conscious steps toward curbing those responses and deciding what forms of therapy might be most effective for me. As I’ve mentioned a few times, my name is one of the hardest words for me to say. Only in the past few weeks though, as I’ve practiced reading out loud, have I realized how much tension actually grips my mouth when I try to form that ‘M’ sound. So every once in awhile, I repeat my name out loud multiple times in front of a mirror, watching my lips and trying to release the tension as soon as I feel it, if I can. Since the tension is completely involuntary, it can be hard to release sometimes, even when I try really hard. One of these days, I’m hoping my name will come out the first time…and that will be an amazing moment to praise God for!
Because it’s a neurological problem, stuttering cannot be completely cured. However, with lots of practice, someone who stutters can learn how to stutter more easily. By ‘easily,’ I mean stuttering without nearly as much bodily effort and tension. Basically, I’m on a journey to retrain my brain how to talk. (Sounds kind of daunting, huh? 🙂 ) Hopefully, as I constantly practice talking without tension and relaxing my muscles, my brain will start to develop a new speech pattern that will make speaking a little easier.
Setting aside time in each day to work on speech may not be what I envisioned for my life…but it was always God’s plan for my life. Before I was even born, God chose to make me part of that 1% of the population that stutters. Sometimes, there is nothing more painful than standing in front of someone, unable to say your own name. But in that moment of stuttering, when the ache in my heart to speak seems unbearable, God’s grace and comfort is never far behind. Just knowing that my stutter is a direct result of the loving hand of God heals that ache and brings wonderful peace to my heart.
Nothing takes God by surprise; He masterfully orchestrates every detail of our lives for our good, and most importantly, for His glory.
“He knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. . .he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me.” ~Job 23: 10, 13-14~
Much love, Makenzie